Culture as we all know is the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society. It is composed of both material and none material things. Culture universals are found in all human societies; these include expressive forms like art, music, dance, ritual, religion, and technologies like tool usage, cooking, shelter, and clothing.
Today, I am lifted to write about Zimbabwe clothing style which reminds me of the beautiful song by Dolly Parton “Coat of many colors”. But before we delve into it, brief introduction of this interesting country would be helpful. Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southern Africa with its seat of power in Harare. It’s a country known for its rich tradition of stone sculpture and for its natural tourist attractions such as the Great Zimbabwe Falls and Victoria Falls.
So, apart from the rich tradition and the beautiful places in Zimbabwe, one of the interesting cultures to explore is their distinctive dressing style.
The people of Zimbabwe prefer to wear colorful dresses. The native or national dress of the country is a wraparound cloth, head wrap, earrings and necklaces. Wraparounds and headdresses are quite popular garments among the women. For men, a breastplate made from animal skin is very popular.
The elderly people of the country are known to wear the traditional native dress, which forms the basis of Zimbabwe clothing. The tribal clothes of the people of the country include a headdress that is meant to cover the head. Headdresses are worn by both men and women. The traditional Zimbabwe clothing is worn on some special occasions like the Independence Day or Hero’s Day.
It is believed that the traditional dresses for the women of the country are decked up with beautiful beads. Large sized ornaments form integral part of the traditional clothing of the women.
Woman wearing Idzilla
Women take great pride in their dress. Their traditional dress is colorful and bright and is decorated with a lot of beautiful bead work. A woman’s traditional dress shows her age and status in the community. A married woman traditionally wears a blanket over her shoulders with a lot of thick beaded hoops of twisted grass, called “isigolwani” around her neck and legs. She also wears copper and brass rings or “Idzilla” around her arms, neck and legs. The blanket or “nguba” is usually one with stripes of green, red, blue, yellow and brown.
Married women also wear some form of head covering as a sign of respect for their husbands. These range from a beaded headband or a knitted cap to fancy beaded headdresses called “amacubi”.
Little girls wear beaded aprons or beaded skirts, while older girls who undergo initiation wear many thick “isigolwani” around their necks, arms, legs and waist. They also wear “isiphephetu”, a beaded apron given to them by their mothers as a symbol of entering womanhood.
The main part of the male attires of Zimbabwe is the breastplate, which is also known as Iporiyana. It is worn around the neck. Men also wear animal skin head bands and ankle bands. To keep warm, they wear an animal skin ‘“karos” around their shoulders. Animal skin traditionally played an important role in men’s dress because each Ndebele group is associated with a different animal. For rituals and ceremonies, Ndebele men wear ornaments made for them by their wives. This is made of animal skin. The animal skin that is used to make Iporiyana differs among tribes. The skin of hyena and civet is commonly used.
Nevertheless, most of the people in the capital and developed regions have long adopted the modern style of clothing.
So as you can see, “There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning”. Jiddu Krishnamurti